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Access to Work Experience For School Students is Crucial for their Future Development
Education went on break in all levels; however, its return is influenced by changes of the new normal. These include travel restrictions, decreased work experience placements, self-isolation, social distancing, and more.
Unfortunately, this detrimental impact affects a vast number of aspiring young people in the UK. While business leaders and politicians look to resolve problems in their concerned facets, it is increasingly important not to focus on young people and their aspirations. In this regard, work experience has evolved into virtuality, called VWEX (virtual work experience).
In a bid to help young people aged 11-19 make up for the lost lockdown time, multiple YouGov surveys were commissioned by a leading youth social mobility organization. The respondents included 2,000 young people (aged 11-19), 100 business leaders, and 100MPs. The purpose of these surveys was to establish what young peoples’ needs are and whether they feel they are being met by both businesses and politicians.
Future Development: The Priorities of Young People
Beginning with school shutdowns, travel restrictions, and reduced opportunities that can ensure social growth, young people have experienced it all. Perhaps, a decent number of young people between 11-19 know the consequences the COVID-inspired lockdown holds against them.
Mental health is also a core subject of discussion here. For young people between 16-19, mental health is vital in their post-COVID recovery. This does not, however, displace the importance of workplace experience.
Besides, 53-63 % of young people between 16-19 think work experience in a relevant field can go a long way. Unfortunately, they face a COVID-made barrier, and 47-55% have confirmed in the survey that barriers to work experience opportunities threaten their aspirations.
Considering the percentage of 16-19-year-olds seeing work experience barriers as a problem, it suffices to assert that work experience for school students is the way forward.
Are You an Employer or a Politician? There Could Be a Disparity Between What You Think Vs. Young People
Over 90% of employers (91%) and politicians (95%) admit to knowing the impact of the UK lockdown on young people between 11 and 19.
How do young people gauge employers’ knowledge of them?
77% of young people may be thinking employers do not understand their “hopes, needs and aspirations” well. This is coming as an opposing figure to a massive 67% of employers concluding that they know young people well.
The disparity could result from the channels and methods employers put in place to learn what the young ones prioritize. For example, the survey states as high as 66% of employers gather data into young people’s experiences through conventional mediums, including friends and families of young people.
How do young people gauge politicians’ knowledge of them?
You would think politicians in government have the edge when it comes to an understanding young people. Unfortunately, this is not to be with a staggering 89% of aspiring young people disagreeing with the position of politicians who claim to know their “hopes, needs and aspirations” well. This comes as an opposition to 87% of politicians well-relaxed in their thoughts about knowing young people well.
From the survey, the disparity also points to the inefficiencies of the traditional contact networks, including family, friends, schools, etc., that politicians explore to learn about young people. These channels may not exactly know young people’s experiences regardless of their immediate environment.
Given the similarity between the disconnect inherent in the relationship and understanding of young people’s hopes, needs, and aspirations, the solution would be to explore a more personalized channel that properly represents the views of young people.
Even though traditional placements are becoming a thing in the UK, the new normal already ensures several limitations. Thus, the bulleted factors below show how virtual work experience is important to a post-pandemic recovery:
- Availability. COVID has forced many placement centers to shut down.
- The pingdemic. Pingdemic is a compound term referring to when the NHS COVID-19 app pings/notifies you to self-isolate after coming in close contact with a COVID-positive person. This, therefore, translates to more self-isolation that forces placement centers to postpone or close down indefinitely.
- Contact tracing. When young people who had close contact with COVID patients are identified, they are made to self-isolate, missing work experience.
- Accessibility. The new normal restricts travel, increasing transportation costs that many young people cannot meet, especially from low-income families.
Fortunately, the bulleted points above are the problems online work experience resolves the future development. With VWEX, young people do not have to think about leaving their homes to placement centers. This does not also trigger NHS’s COVID app notification, and participants may not be subject to track and trace.
Most importantly, virtual work experience eliminates the problems of suspensions or indefinite cancellation of placement campaigns. Participation is flexible, and organizations can comfortably upscale their outreach to accommodate more UK young people.
How Government and Labour Market Can Make Young People Believe They Know Their Needs, Hopes, and Aspirations Well Since employers and politicians acknowledge the need to help aspiring young people, what is being done about the situation?
A charity organization like Speakers for Schools is already partnering with secondary schools and colleges to ensure free placements. Currently, there are 56,000 online placements through their VWEX program, with plans to add more opportunities.
The labor market is contributing to this trend as well. Recently, The Guardian report showed organizations, including “Google, Marks & Spencer, PwC, and Vodafone” will participate in the Bright Network VWEX to ensure work experience online.
The UK’s £8.9 billion cybersecurity sector also sees an investment surge to protect internet users, which helps young people participate in online placements securely for future development.